How to help your dog adjust to a new baby

You and your dog have an established life together. Your dog relies on the comfort of the daily routine--it's how he knows everything is okay. While adding a new baby to your family may be a thrilling change for you, this abrupt deviation from the norm can be confusing and even upsetting for a dog.

In order to help your dog adjust to having a new baby on the scene, there are a few things you can do:

  • Prepare for arrival: Before the baby arrives, try to anticipate what will change in your dog's day-to-day life. Will his walking or feeding schedule change? Will he need to sleep in a different place? If so, make these transitions in advance--so he doesn't associate the changes with the baby. In addition, once your baby is born--but before you take them home for the first time--it's a good idea to get an item of clothing with the baby's scent on it, and take this home first--to get your dog adjusted to it.
  • Set the stage: Think through the main changes that will be interesting or jarring for your dog. Is your dog sensitive to loud noises? You may want to play a recording of a baby crying so get him used to the sound. Will there be baby-friendly seats and swings in the house? These will likely make your dog curious. Install these in advance, and train your dog not to jump on them.
  • Encourage calm interaction: If your dog usually gets excited when you come home, greet him alone the first time you bring your baby home. Once he's calm, then introduce him to the baby using calm, soothing tones--to exemplify the type of behavior you want.
  • Dedicated doggy time: Having a new baby can be all-consuming. However, it's important to still make your dog feel loved. Include him in your interactions with your baby whenever possible. And make sure you set aside time for walking and playing with your dog. By giving your dog an outlet to release his energy, he'll have a better chance of being calm around the baby.

If a dog feels threatened or scared, he's more likely to lash out. By helping your dog understand that a baby is safe, he'll be better adjusted and better behaved.

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